Snowmelt Runoff: A New Focus of Urban Nonpoint Source Pollution
2. Characteristics of Urban NPS Pollution
3. Models of Urban NPS Pollution
4. Snowmelt Runoff under the Global Warming
4.1. Water Quantity of Snowmelt Runoff
4.2. Water Quality of Snowmelt Runoff
- When it snows, atmospheric pollutants can be absorbed by the snow, eventually contributing to the runoff water contamination. In contrast to summer, the air quality in winter is usually much worse than that of other seasons because of the combustion of coal for heating. Here, Changchun City, the capital city of Jilin Province, Northeast China was chosen as an example. It is at 124°18'–127°02' east longitude, 43°05'–45°15' north latitude, with an urban area of 3,583 km2 and a population of 7.057 million . With an average temperature of 5.2 °C and an average annual rainfall of 522–615 mm, it is a typical northern city in China, which combusts coal for warming in winter. The ambient air quality data of Changchun City was downloaded from the website of the China Meteorological Data Sharing Service System. Figure 1 shows the monthly air pollution index of Changchun City from 2007 to 2009. The main objective of the air pollution index (API) is to measure the air quality with respect to its effects on the human health. Typically this is a daily quality index. A daily API has been proposed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is deﬁned with respect to the ﬁve main common pollutants: carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The evaluation of the APIs,p at station s for pollutant p (APIs,p) is carried out by a linear interpolation of the reference scale values:
- Dust and other pollutants on the impervious surface in cities are important components in snowmelt accompanying the process of runoff scouring. However, unlike the runoff in summer, the cold weather in winter hinders the melting process of snow, resulting in the accumulation of snow cover, and the runoff will not happen until the temperature increase to a suitable level. Therefore, with the accumulation of snow, the contaminants accumulate due to the pollutants on impervious surfaces and dropping from the upper atmosphere. In a word, the accumulation effects may deteriorate the runoff quality to some extent. Slow accumulation and fast transportation of pollutants into water can make pollutant loads rocket within a short period. However, rivers awaking from freezing are frail ecosystems with poorer self-purification capacity due to the lower temperature and lower microorganism activity, which seriously threatens the receiving water quality. For example, the suspended solids, permanganate index and nitrate concentration observed in April was about 2–4 times higher than that of January and February in the Dongdaqiao section of Yitong River, which is the most important receiving river of Changchun City. In addition, the conductivity presented the same trend .
- Applying snowmelt agents is one of the most common measures used to tackle snow on roads and highways in most of the cold regions of the World. Furthermore, frequent big snowstorm events these years may increase the amounts of snowmelt agent applied. When deicers are applied or the sun shines on heat absorbing paved areas, it results in a winter-long sequence of chemically-driven melt events in which saline water carries accumulated road pollutants into drainage systems and local receiving waters . As a result, the snowmelt agent becomes a unique type of pollutant in snowmelt runoff. Though there are a variety of snowmelt agents, the major and common component of snowmelt agent is inorganic chloride. Thus, besides the large amount of metallic cation which may increase the conductivity and salinity of the receiving waters, the chlorine deicer has obvious adverse effect on concrete brick, and could reduce the pH value of water . Road salt deicers, especially NaCl and CaCl2, are used extensively in the US and elsewhere. The results demonstrated addition of NaCl, and especially 5 g/L CaCl2·H2O, resulted in stimulated anaerobic production of dissolved Mn(II) and Fe(II) in the sediment pore waters. This is hypothesized to be the result of nutrient release (e.g., K, Ca, trace elements) via an ion exchange processes, which fuels primary production and subsequent organic matter degradation in the cores treated with NaCl or CaCl2 . Therefore, the snowmelt agent in snowmelt runoff should be taken into consideration in any research and control of the runoff in melting seasons.
- Compared with summer, the ecological purification function of greenbelts in winter is much lower, which leads to worse water quality. According to Westerlund’s study in northern Sweden , the concentrations during the melt period were significantly higher compared to those during the rain period for all particle size intervals. During the melt period, it had about a five times higher number of particles, for all particle sizes, than the rain period, furthermore, investigated particle sizes and total suspended solids were highly correlated with total concentrations of Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn. The highest correlations were found for total suspended solids and particle sizes 6–9 μm. According to other researchers, removal rates of TSS, COD, BOD, TP, TN, Zn, and Fe in runoff can reach above 60 percent after the runoff flows through vegetated areas , and this can be attributed to the physical interception, the absorption of plants, and the microbial decomposition, etc. . The ability of greenroofs to reduce problems of urban stormwater runoff quantity  and quality  are being investigated more and more intensively. Teemusk and Mander  analyzed the chemistry characters of the runoff samples near the city centre of Tartu, Estonia, the results showed that the slower the runoff rate, the higher the concentrations of total N, NH4-N and organic material (after BOD7 and COD) in the runoff water. Total P concentration did not vary significantly in relation to water discharge. Heavy rain washed more phosphates and also nitrates out of the greenroof. In snow melting water, the concentrations of all components were greater on the greenroof due to the accumulation of atmospheric pollutants in snow. As the measurements showed, the greenroof runoff always contained more sulphates and Ca-Mg-salt. On the other hand, for example, the concentrations of P and N, and also COD and BOD7, were higher in the runoff water of the reference roof in the case of moderate runoff. However, in winter, the only residual function of the greenbelt may be the physical intercepting ability of some wizened plants. As for the biological plant absorption and the microbial decomposition function, it cannot be expected to be taken into consideration. Thus, the low natural purification ability of greenbelts in urban area leads to higher risk of water impairment occurring during melting seasons.
5. Management and Control Strategy of Urban NPS Pollution
Conflict of Interest
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Zhu, H.; Xu, Y.; Yan, B.; Guan, J. Snowmelt Runoff: A New Focus of Urban Nonpoint Source Pollution. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 4333-4345. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph9124333
Zhu H, Xu Y, Yan B, Guan J. Snowmelt Runoff: A New Focus of Urban Nonpoint Source Pollution. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2012; 9(12):4333-4345. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph9124333Chicago/Turabian Style
Zhu, Hui, Yingying Xu, Baixing Yan, and Jiunian Guan. 2012. "Snowmelt Runoff: A New Focus of Urban Nonpoint Source Pollution" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9, no. 12: 4333-4345. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph9124333